A keen battle awaits all the three main political parties – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), in Ellenabad seat of Sirsa district by-election in Haryana.
This by-poll result holds significance as it would also reflect the Jat bastion’s feedback on the working of BJP-Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) coalition government which completes two years in office on October 27. The by-poll is on October 30 while the counting of votes of all the said by-elections would take place on November 2.
Ellenabad seat which has traditionally been an INLD citadel, fell vacant after INLD’s sole MLA Abhay Chautala resigned from the assembly in January this year expressing his solidarity with farmers’ stir against the contentious farm laws.
While INLD has again fielded Abhay, BJP has fielded Gobind Kanda who is brother of Sirsa MLA and businessman Gopal Kanda, who represents his own Haryana Lokhit Party (HLP). Gobind had also unsuccessfully fought from Rania seat in 2019 on HLP ticket. Now, interestingly enough, Gobind who had joined BJP only a few days ago is the joint nominee of the ruling BJP and JJP while Gopal has also extended his unconditional support to the ruling BJP-JJP combine.
The Congress on the other hand, has fielded Pawan Beniwal who has shifted loyalty from BJP. He finished second on the BJP ticket in the 2019 polls. Prior to BJP, Pawan was with the INLD but left it ahead of the 2014 elections. Even though the BJP had appointed Pawan as the chairman of the Haryana seed development corporation from 2016 till 2019, he quit the saffron party in April this year protesting against the contentious farm laws.
BATTLE LINES DRAWN
While Abhay had won the seat in 2019 assembly polls with about 57,000 votes, the BJP’s Pawan Beniwal finished second with about 45,000 followed by Congress’ Bharat Beniwal who got about 35,000 votes.
The JJP had fought elections separately in 2019 and its candidate O P Sihag could get only about 6,500 votes.
Even though Pawan enjoys the support of state Congress president Kumari Selja, he might face ire of the supporters of the Congress’ former candidate Bharat who had finished third in the last election.
The victory of the four-time MLA Abhay in 2019 was despite a crippling split in the INLD in 2018 after his elder brother Ajay and his family members floated Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) which forged an alliance with BJP after the elections in 2019. The JJP is a partner in the ruling coalition government.
However, the INLD whose rural base was slipping after the split, has also had a fillip after the release of party supremo Om Prakash Chautala from Tihar Jail on the completion of his jail term in the JBT recruitment case about three months ago.
Even though the BJP-JJP combine would have an advantage of being in power, it might face the wrath of raging farmers’ protests across the state. However, the saffron party hopes to garner Bania votes which are in good numbers in several pockets of the constituency.